There is an increasing awareness about the dangers of indoor mold problems and the potential to cause respiratory health issues. For some people, the persistent presence of indoor mold spores and mycotoxins in the air can cause severe inflammatory conditions or other medical complications. Especially if the type of mold is linked to the strain known as Stachybotrys chartarum, or “Toxic Black Mold.”
Though your health isn’t the only thing that might be vulnerable to mold problems. Your closets and your clothes can be just as much at risk. You see mold spores naturally live in the air around us in trace amounts. Though when a spore finds the moist, wet conditions it needs to thrive, it can germinate into an active mold colony in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help keep mold from infesting your closets and damaging your clothes.
Thoroughly Dry All Your Clothes Before They Go Into The Closet
Mold spores need moist warm conditions to germinate into a dangerous active mold colony. While you certainly need to make sure all your garments are 100% dry when they come out of the dryer, you should also avoid hanging damp “Air Dry” things like pantyhose and lightweight polyester garments. This keeps moisture out of your closets and also prevents air-dry garments from taking on a musty, earthy odor.
Remove Clutter Monthly
It’s not just insects that love to make a home in cluttered areas. Mold spores can also colonize things like old piles of paper and cardboard boxes. Especially if those boxes have been damp in the past, or there is a lot of high humidity in the air. This is compounded by the fact that a lot of closets, including walk-in closets, don’t have a lot of air ventilation or an active register for the home’s HVAC system.
Use A Dehumidifier
Closets in basements are always going to be prone to higher levels of ambient humidity. Though even an upstairs closet without proper ventilation or a register that’s connected to the central air conditioning system can suffer from high levels of humidity. This can leave enough ambient moisture in the closet and the soft garments to let mold spores germinate.
Placing a small dehumidifier in these closets during times of high humidity, like the peak of summer, can help capture that humidity out of the air. This prevents it from embedding the moisture mold spores that thrive in the clothing hanging in your closet.
Use An Air Purifier
A lot of dehumidifiers come with some type of air purifier built into them. Though if yours doesn’t you might want to consider adding one to the equation. Especially in basement closets that don’t necessarily get a lot of use. This will help capture mold spores and airborne mycotoxins before they have a chance to settle onto garments or impregnate the carpet.
Just make sure that the air purifier you choose has a built-in HEPA filter to catch tiny particles and mold spores. Then make sure to check it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace or clean the HEPA filter when needed.
Replace Wood Shelving With Wire
Mold loves to colonize porous organic materials like wood. If you have the time and the budget, or you are contemplating a closet remodeling project and you are concerned about mold in your updated closet, then you should strongly consider metal wire shelves over wood. This will reduce the material surface that mold spores can use to colonize.
For mold spores to colonize a material they need to settle on a surface. As they germinate microscopic roots descend down into the medium. By adding a fan or installing an air vent you reduce the chances of mold spores making a home in your closet. This is a handy strategy if you don’t happen to have a dehumidifier or an air purifier with a HEPA filter during the most humid times of the summer.
Take Care Of Water Leaks & Signs Of Mold In Other Places
Water leaks from compromised plumbing fixtures or minor roof leaks that leave moisture lingering in the attic above your closet can make it easy for mold to establish a nearby colony. As it continues to grow it can increase the molding density in your home, which puts your closet and garments at increased risk for mold colonization.
If you do happen to find signs of mold such as discolored splotches, musty odors, or blisters on woodwork, you need to deal with it as soon as possible. This might call for removing the materials or contracting a professional mold remediation specialist to safely eliminate the presence of mold from your home.
Use Silica Packs Or Painter’s Desiccant
A lot of people are aware of the problems posed by high humidity in the summertime. They rush to stores and scoop up as many dehumidifiers as they can find. If you find the store shelves empty, and you are worried about humidity affecting your closet and clothes, you might be able to get by for a few months by placing silica packs or good old fashioned painter’s desiccant in key locations in your closet
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Closet Mold Dangerous To Your Health?
Medically speaking, inhaling mold spores and mycotoxins can be hazardous to your health no matter where you encounter them. Even if you don’t have active mold colonies on freshly laundered garments, mold spores living on the walls or in the carpeting can lead to high concentrations in the air. Each visit to the closet increases your exposure, which can cause respiratory irritation and other health consequences.
What Clothes Are Most Prone To Mold Problems?
In general, mold problems are more likely to develop on organic fabrics like wool and cotton than they are on artificial fabrics like rayon, nylon, and polyester. If you have a lot of organic fabric garments, you might want to place them closer to dehumidifiers and air purifiers.
Where Should I Hang Air Dry Only Clothing?
Certain fabrics and hosiery are air dry only. Keeping them out of your closets while they are damp is key to preventing mold colonization. If possible you should try to hang them in the bathroom or a shower stall. Then make sure to turn on the bathroom vent to improve airflow and prevent mold issues in that room as well.